Time filter

Source Type

Dorresteijn I.,Lüneburg University | Hanspach J.,Lüneburg University | Kecskes A.,Milvus Group Bird and Nature Protection Association | Latkova H.,Milvus Group Bird and Nature Protection Association | And 5 more authors.
Landscape Ecology | Year: 2014

Facilitating human-carnivore coexistence is a major conservation concern in human-dominated landscapes worldwide. Useful insights could be gained by studying and understanding the dynamics of human-carnivore coexistence in landscapes in which carnivores and humans have coexisted for a long time. We used a two-pronged approach combining ecological and social data to study coexistence of the brown bear (Ursus arctos) and humans in Transylvania, Romania. First, we surveyed 554 km of walking transects to estimate activity via a bear sign index, namely the proportion of anthills disturbed by bears, and used spatially explicit predictive models to test which biophysical and anthropogenic variables influenced bear activity. Second, we interviewed 86 shepherds and 359 villagers and community representatives to assess conflicts with bears and attitudes of shepherds towards bears. Our interdisciplinary study showed that bears and humans coexisted relatively peacefully despite occasional conflicts. Coexistence appeared to be facilitated by: (1) the availability of large forest blocks that are connected to the source population of bears in the Carpathian Mountains; (2) the use of traditional livestock management to minimize damage from bears; and (3) some tolerance among shepherds to occasional conflict with bears. In contrast, bear activity was unrelated to human settlements, and compensation for livestock losses did not influence people's attitudes toward bears. Our study shows that coexistence of humans and carnivores is possible, even without direct economic incentives. A key challenge for settings with a discontinuous history of human-carnivore coexistence is to reinstate both practices and attitudes that facilitate coexistence. © 2014 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.


Vincze O.,Babes - Bolyai University | Vincze O.,Debrecen University | Vagasi C.I.,Babes - Bolyai University | Vagasi C.I.,Debrecen University | And 4 more authors.
Biological Journal of the Linnean Society | Year: 2013

Defence mechanisms against parasites and pathogens are some of the most elaborate biological systems in animals. The oily secretion of the avian uropygial gland has been suggested to serve as a chemical defence against feather and eggshell bacteria. Yet, the traits associated with uropygial gland oil production are not well understood. We conducted a phylogenetic analysis comprising 132 European bird species aiming to test: (1) whether life-history and ecological traits drive gland size evolution by potentially promoting microbial infestation and (2) how these traits affects change in the gland size throughout the annual cycle. We show that the size of the uropygial gland is dynamic (i.e. increasing from the nonbreeding to the breeding season, independent of sex). Furthermore, we found that the year-round size of the gland was similar between sexes and was correlated with different ecological and life-history traits promoting microbial infection throughout the annual cycle. During the breeding season, the total eggshell surface area in a clutch correlated significantly and positively with the gland size, suggesting the importance of oil in protecting eggs from microbes. Social species exhibited a larger gland size increase during the breeding season compared to nonsocials; a change that was also predicted by the total eggshell surface area. Aquatic, riparian and non-migratory species had larger glands than terrestrials and migrants, respectively. The findings of the present study suggest that aquatic environments may promote the production of gland oil, through either the need of waterproofing the plumage and/or defending it against the intensified feather degradation in these moist conditions. Finally, we found a negative effect of the incubation period on uropygial gland size, which may suggest an energetic constraint imposed by other development-connected costly activities. Our results show that the role of the uropygial gland dynamically varies during the annual cycle, potentially in response to seasonal variation in parasitic infection risk. © 2013 The Linnean Society of London.


Cserkesz T.,Eötvös Loránd University | Aczel-Fridrich Z.,Milvus Group Bird and Nature Protection Association | Hegyeli Z.,Milvus Group Bird and Nature Protection Association | Sugar S.,Milvus Group Bird and Nature Protection Association | And 3 more authors.
Mammalia | Year: 2015

The Southern birch mouse (Sicista subtilis) is a small-sized rodent species characteristic of the Palearctic steppes with westernmost occurrences in central Europe. The species was considered to be extinct in Transylvania (central Romania), but in our field survey we captured three living individuals near the city of Cluj-Napoca. On the basis of nuclear interphotoreceptor retinoid-binding protein and mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase subunit 1 sequences, we assessed the taxonomic status of the newly found S. subtilis population by comparing them to available sequences, including the sequences of its subspecies. The Transylvanian samples were found to be genetically closest to the Hungarian samples of S. subtilis trizona. These new records extend the known geographic range of this rediscovered species and provide additional information on its habitat preference and external morphological features. Moreover, our phylogenetic tree reconstruction for seven Sicista taxa provides a basic insight into the phylogenetic relationships of the genus, placing the northern Eurasian taxa (S. betulina and S. subtilis) at the crown of the tree and the central Asian taxa at the base of the tree. The Transylvanian occurrence of S. subtilis trizona, which is endemic to the Carpathian Basin, is of high faunistic value as a result of an increase in the number of known populations of this subspecies-one of the most endangered rodents of Europe-from one to two. © 2015 by De Gruyter.


Salek M.,Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic | Spassov N.,Bulgarian Academy of Science | Andera M.,National Museum | Enzinger K.,Austrian League of Nature Conservation | And 2 more authors.
Acta Theriologica | Year: 2013

The steppe polecat Mustela eversmanii is a medium-sized mustelid species whose European population has significantly declined over the past century. However, due to the lack of systematic surveys, little is known about its status and distribution. In this paper, we review the current distribution, habitat associations, and population trends of steppe polecats in Europe and assess the main factors associated with these trends. Our results reveal ongoing population declines in most of the studied countries, which led to fragmentation and local population extinctions at the beginning of the twenty-first century. The species was assessed as rapidly declining in Austria, Czech Republic, Moldova, Slovakia, and Ukraine; declining in Bulgaria; and stable in Hungary. Due to insufficient data, its status was not evaluated for Romania, Poland, and Serbia. M. eversmanii naturally occurs in steppe habitats, but recently seems to have adopted open agricultural landscapes consisting of a mosaic of grasslands, small fields with hedges, and dry embankments. Its distribution often coincides with populations of ground squirrels and hamsters. However, in intensively used agricultural landscapes, smaller rodents (especially voles) could also be an important dietary component. Intensive agricultural production, habitat loss, the degradation of steppe and grassland habitats, and significant declines in the availability of its main prey are the crucial factors for the species' current population decline. Further research is urgently needed to fill the gaps in our knowledge of its distribution, population densities, feeding ecology, habitat associations, and population genetics. This would enable first steps towards its effective conservation and management strategies. © 2013 Mammal Research Institute, Polish Academy of Sciences, Białowieża, Poland.


Pap P.L.,Debrecen University | Pap P.L.,Babes - Bolyai University | Osvath G.,Babes - Bolyai University | Sandor K.,Babes - Bolyai University | And 9 more authors.
Functional Ecology | Year: 2015

The functional significance of intra- and interspecific structural variations in the flight feathers of birds is poorly understood. Here, a phylogenetic comparative analysis of four structural features (rachis width, barb and barbule density and porosity) of proximal and distal primary feathers of 137 European bird species was conducted. Flight type (flapping and soaring, flapping and gliding, continuous flapping or passerine type), habitat (terrestrial, riparian or aquatic), wing characteristics (wing area, S and aspect ratio, AR) and moult strategy were all found to affect feather structure to some extent. Species characterized by low wing-beat frequency flight (soaring and gliding) have broader feather rachises (shafts) and feather vanes with lower barb density than birds associated with more active flapping modes of flight. However, the effect of flying mode on rachis width disappeared after controlling for S and AR, suggesting that rachis width is primarily determined by wing morphology. Rachis width and feather vane density are likely related to differences in force distribution across the wingspan during different flight modes. An increase in shaft diameter, barb density and porosity from the proximal to distal wing feathers was found and was highest in species with flapping flight indicating that aerodynamic forces are more biased towards the distal feathers in flapping flyers than in soarers and gliders. Habitat affected barb and barbule density, which was greatest in aquatic species, and within this group, barb density was greater in divers than non-divers, suggesting that the need for water repellency and resistance to water penetration may influence feather structure. However, we found little support for the importance of porosity in water repellency and water penetration, because porosity was similar in aquatic, riparian and terrestrial species and among the aquatic birds (divers and non-divers). We also found that barb density was affected by moult pattern. Our results have broad implications for the understanding of the selection pressures driving flight feather functional morphology. Specifically, the large sample size relative to any previous studies has emphasized that the morphology of flight feathers is the result of a suite of selection pressures. As well as routine flight needs, constraints during moulting, habitat (particularly aquatic) and migratory requirements also affect flight feather morphology. Identifying the exact nature of these trade-offs will perhaps inform the reconstruction of the flying modes of extinct birds. © 2015 British Ecological Society.


Vagasi C.I.,Debrecen University | Vagasi C.I.,Babes - Bolyai University | Vincze O.,Debrecen University | Vincze O.,Babes - Bolyai University | And 9 more authors.
Journal of Evolutionary Biology | Year: 2016

Large brains (relative to body size) might confer fitness benefits to animals. Although the putative costs of well-developed brains can constrain the majority of species to modest brain sizes, these costs are still poorly understood. Given that the neural tissue is energetically expensive and demands antioxidants, one potential cost of developing and maintaining large brains is increased oxidative stress (‘oxidation exposure’ hypothesis). Alternatively, because large-brained species exhibit slow-paced life histories, they are expected to invest more into self-maintenance such as an efficacious antioxidative defence machinery (‘oxidation avoidance’ hypothesis). We predict decreased antioxidant levels and/or increased oxidative damage in large-brained species in case of oxidation exposure, and the contrary in case of oxidation avoidance. We address these contrasting hypotheses for the first time by means of a phylogenetic comparative approach based on an unprecedented data set of four redox state markers from 85 European bird species. Large-brained birds suffered less oxidative damage to lipids (measured as malondialdehyde levels) and exhibited higher total nonenzymatic antioxidant capacity than small-brained birds, whereas uric acid and glutathione levels were independent of brain size. These results were not altered by potentially confounding variables and did not depend on how relative brain size was quantified. Our findings partially support the ‘oxidation avoidance’ hypothesis and provide a physiological explanation for the linkage of large brains with slow-paced life histories: reduced oxidative stress of large-brained birds can secure brain functionality and healthy life span, which are integral to their lifetime fitness and slow-paced life history. © 2016 European Society For Evolutionary Biology. Journal of Evolutionary Biology © 2016 European Society For Evolutionary Biology


Sos T.,Milvus Group Bird and Nature Protection Association | Kecskes A.,Milvus Group Bird and Nature Protection Association | Hegyeli Z.,Milvus Group Bird and Nature Protection Association | Marosi B.,Babes - Bolyai University
Acta Herpetologica | Year: 2012

The distribution of the meadow lizard, Darevskia pontica, in Romania is still inadequately documented. In the light of new distribution data reported here and gleaned from the literature, the species is more widely distributed in the country. The distribution seems to be continuous in southern Romania, even if fragmented and associated with extant woodland patches. The present distribution pattern could be the result of extensive deforestation process in the area, which isolated this forest lizard to remnant patches, as already indicated in the literature.© Firenze University Press.


Sos T.,Milvus Group Bird and Nature Protection Association
Biharean Biologist | Year: 2012

It is generally considered that terrestrial chelonians often cope surprisingly well with carapace trauma and it is common to encounter animals with chronic healed shell deformities resulting from previous traumatic episodes. Terrestrial chelonians may incur traumatic shell injuries as a result of being run over by cars or lawnmowers, burned as consequence of wrong pasture management, or gnawed by predators, or they may merely have suffered a significant fall. Here I present the description of two extreme cases of regeneration in Testudo graeca ibera in nature. In one case the tortoise survived an injury that covered more than 50 % of the carapace. The possible causes of injuries are also listed. © Biharean Biologist, Oradea, Romania, 2012.


Nowak C.,Senckenberg Institute | Domokos C.,Milvus Group Bird and Nature Protection Association | Dutsov A.,Balkani Wildlife Society | Frosch C.,Senckenberg Institute
Conservation Genetics | Year: 2014

We tested the hypothesis that brown bears were translocated from the Romanian Carpathians to Bulgaria via air transportation during the communist regime in the 1970s and 1980s. Microsatellite analysis was performed on 199 bear samples from Bulgaria and Romania. Assignment and admixture tests revealed the existence of seven genotypes (=2.8 %) in Bulgaria that were assigned with high probabilities to the Romanian population, supporting the translocation and successful establishment of Carpathian bears in Bulgaria. While we cannot rule out the possibility that active long-distance dispersal contributed to the observed pattern, the spatial distribution and sex ratio of the detected Romanian genotypes strongly favor the translocation hypothesis. © 2014 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.


Sos T.,Milvus Group Bird and Nature Protection Association | Hegyeli Z.,Milvus Group Bird and Nature Protection Association
North-Western Journal of Zoology | Year: 2015

The endemic smooth newt Lissotriton vulgaris ampelensis Fuhn, 1951 is listed in Annex II of the EU Habitats Directive, and thus its conservation requires designation of Special Areas of Conservation (SACs). The limited designation of protected areas for the subspecies results from the partly unknown distribution of this variant, the consequence of its imperfect recognition in the field. Summarizing the qualitative morphological traits of 65 males examined, we conclude that the smooth waved to straight, relatively low dorsal crest, its consistent starting point from the occipital region, and the accentuated steepness of the dorsal crest in larger crested newts, are the most reliable characteristics to distinguish L. v. ampelensis. On the basis of our morphological description, we report an extended distribution range of the subspecies. We confirm a high congruence between the distribution of the morphotypes of the subspecies and the molecular data reported in the literature. © NwjZ, Oradea, Romania, 2015.

Loading Milvus Group Bird and Nature Protection Association collaborators
Loading Milvus Group Bird and Nature Protection Association collaborators